Patrick Jane paid attention.
You always knew when something was wrong. You couldn't always tell immediately, however and that's where the skill came in. You would look at the big picture, observe with every sense at your disposal, stand back and watch the players, suss up the game, figure the rules. You would always get a sense of a room, a crowd, a circumstance, and almost always, you could tell. Something just wouldn't "jive". Something just wouldn't fit. Something or someone would be amiss, wrong or just plain off. It was only then and only then that you started thinking.
Today, Teresa Lisbon was "off."
It wasn't overt or obvious, naturally. She played her cards almost as close to the chest as he did. She was never dramatic about it either, and he had found that that aspect of her personality intrigued him to no end. She was sensitive, receptive and easily manipulated, but rarely defensive, offensive or forthcoming. She let many things in, but let very few things out. Like a room with a one-way mirror, or a book left open for all to see, written in Latin.
He smiled to himself. Of course, he read Latin.
He stuck his head in through the doorway of her office. "Hello."
She looked up from her work, raised her brows at him. "You already said that this morning."
"Well, it's…" He glanced at the clock above her desk. "One o'clock now. The afternoon. That was my post meridiem greeting." He smiled. Latin.
Her expression did not change.
"Ah, yes, well. May I come in?'
"You need permission?"
He strolled in, hands behind his back, eyes wandering over the files, the chairs, the windows. He reached out with a finger, swiped some dust from the top of her computer, made a face. Finally, he turned to smile at her.
"You're sad today."
Now it was her turn to make a face. "No, I'm not."
"Of course you are. Admit it."
She pouted, knowing she was a rotten liar. "Okay, maybe a little."
Vindicated, he reached out and grabbed one of the wheeled chairs in her office. He sat back and folded his hands across his belly. "Why?'
She grinned, the little one that tugged into her right cheek, causing it to dimple. "It's Doctor Jane, now is it?"
He grinned back. "Honorary doctorate."
"From the school of hard knocks."
His grin turned to a smile and she was secretly pleased. She didn't often make him smile like that, the smile that says, "Good comeback" or "Well said." In the war of words, this office was a constant battlefield, and she was rarely the victor. It was small, but she would enjoy it.
She shrugged. "It's nothing, really. Just…"
He raised his brows and waited.
She smiled, made a little motion with her hands. "It's just my parents' anniversary today, that's all. I always get a little sad on their anniversary…"
He smiled with his eyes now. "Tell me about them."
"What, here, now?"
"Yes, here, now. Why not?"
"Well, well, I'm at work, for one thing. And, and it's personal. And it's not professional, especially if I start crying…"
"Why would you start crying?"
Her green eyes flashed at him. They were already swelling with tears. "Because I'm sad, Jane. The way they died, the accident, the alcoholism, how it tore my family apart…It just makes me sad."
"Fair enough." He was still looking at her, as if his very presence would cause her to crack. He cocked his head, as if thinking, then reached into a waist-coat pocket, pulled out a shiny 50 cent piece, put on the desk right in front of her.
She stared at it, puzzled.
"There was a time, wasn't there, many years ago, when your family was together and happy and you were quite young…"
And as he began to speak quite softly, gently, musically, she found her eyes for some reason fixed on the coin.
"They loved each other once, before the accident. Their anniversary was special. They celebrated every year. It was important, embraced, treasured…"
"Yes," she murmured. His voice had taken on a very pleasant tone, steady, calm, reassuring. It rose and fell like a quiet melody, like waves on the water, like breathing. The silver coin was so shiny, it reflected the light, gleamed and danced in the afternoon sun.
"They enjoyed each other, didn't they? They enjoyed each other's company, enjoyed spending time together, outside of the family. They were very happy, very much in love…"
The corners of her mouth turned up in a small smile, the coin, the voice, the crystallizing of memory. "Yes."
"What did they do that was just for them? What did they do that celebrated each other and the love that they shared? Think back to when they were young and happy and together, and remember what they did. Close your eyes and tell me."
She closed her eyes. "Dancing," she said. "Every Monday and Friday nights, they went dancing…"
"What kind of dancing?"
She smiled warmly. "Foxtrot. Quickstep. Tango. Waltz."
"Hmmm. Yeah. Ballroom."
"Beautiful. Did they dance at home?"
She grinned. "Yeah. At night, sometimes, when we'd be tucked into bed, they would put on some old music and dance in the living room. I would sneak out and watch from the stairs…"
"What music did they play?"
She pursed her lips, trying to remember. "Oldies. Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Mancini…Old romantic songs…"
"What was their favourite?"
She sighed, smiling, and opened her eyes. He was still looking at her.
"Yeah, I do." She frowned, analyzed, then grinned. "Wait a minute…"
He reached over and pocketed his coin.
"What did you just do?"
He rose to his feet. "Well, you'll never be sad on their anniversary again. Unless, of course, you want to be."
She stared at him, blinking. "It was that easy?"
He shrugged. "You have a low threshold. You want to have happy memories."
"I do not." She frowned again. "Do I?"
He raised one eyebrow, grinned. "I could make it so that you only and ever have happy memories on their anniversary."
"You could not."
She narrowed her eyes. "Prove it."
Two of his favourite words. His eyes gleamed. "Stand up."
"Stand up." He held out his hand, like a prince. "Please."
She stood, he beckoned, and suddenly she was on the other side of the desk, her small hand in his, a princess.
"Close your eyes."
He laced his fingers inside hers, slipped his free hand onto the curve of her waist, and pulled her body in close. She didn't fight, her own hand slipping up and onto his shoulder purely by reflex, and quietly, softly, Patrick Jane began to hum.
He began to sway, back and forth, side to side, humming, and quite against her better judgment, she began to follow, side step side step, and she leaned her head against his shoulder, like her mom used to do with her dad. The memory washed her in warmth, comfort, strength, and for a change she didn't fight the tears that ran down her cheeks. Her parents were gone, tragically so, but perhaps they were dancing somewhere, together forever to the tune of Unforgettable.
It was a long moment before she realized that they had stopped moving, that he was just holding her, and she gingerly pulled her hands away, careful not to look at him. She did smile, however, as if that might make the memory last.
"Thanks," she said, feeling surprisingly refreshed and satisfied.
He inclined his head. "You're welcome," and he moved to leave the office, pausing only to throw her a glance before he went. "Happy anniversary, Lisbon."
She shook her head. Her parents dancing together in the living room, she dancing in her office with Patrick Jane. She sighed, smiling.
Some memories in life were truly unforgettable.